|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6112th Meeting (AM)
‘ DARFUR TODAY IS A CONFLICT OF ALL AGAINST ALL’, SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
IN BRIEFING BY HEAD OF JOINT AFRICAN UNION-UNITED NATIONS OPERATION
Rodolphe Adada Describes Issues Presenting Greatest Risk;
Says Political Progress ‘Frozen’ until Implications of ICC Arrest Warrant Clear
“ Darfur today is a conflict of all against all,” the Head of the Joint African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) told the Security Council this morning.
Rodolphe Adada, who is also the Joint African Union-United Nations Special Representative, said the armed movements were fighting amongst each other, members of Government security forces were fighting against one another, the Army clashed with the militias, and all parties had killed civilians.
When he surveyed the risks, he said two issues stood out. The first one was military engagement between the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Government. In that regard, it was vitally important that the Council send a clear signal to all parties that aggressive military action was impermissible. The second issue was the poor state of relations between the Sudan and Chad. The danger of serious deterioration in Darfur was ever present.
He said the situation, however, had changed from the period of intense hostilities in 2003-2004, when tens of thousands of people had been killed, to a low-intensity conflict. From 1 January 2008 until 31 March 2009, there had been some 2,000 fatalities from violence, approximately one third of them civilian. 573 combatants had died. A further 569 people had died in intertribal fighting and UNAMID had lost 14 of its members.
The risk of active war, however, was ever present, Mr. Adada pointed out, with flashpoints including the dangers of insurrection in the camps for internally displaced persons, the mobilization of militant elements on all sides, the tensions between the Sudan and Chad, and numerous local disputes. The political progress made in February, when the Sudan Government and JEM had signed a statement of good intentions, had not been sustained. Political progress was frozen, at least until the implications of the International Criminal Court arrest warrant had become fully clear.
The ICC issue had overwhelmed the Sudanese political process, he continued. It had polarized Sudanese politics and weakened those who supported compromise and consensus. A common ground should be found to empower moderate elements. The people of Darfur were crying out for local peace. In the absence of an overall agreement, they were eager for local peace agreements to proceed. That was a vital role for UNAMID on the ground.
“Unfortunately, under current circumstances, a comprehensive ceasefire is not a prospect,” he said. “However, a cessation of hostilities and reduction of violence are possible.” Detailed plans had been drawn up for that and a comprehensive, fast, rigorous and credible monitoring of violent incidents, with rapid reporting to the Council and the African Union, would be important for reducing tension and building confidence. Darfur was part of the Sudan and a solution to the crisis in Darfur was part and parcel of a wider national Sudanese settlement. Darfur should not hold hostage the national processes of consolidating peace and achieving democratic transformation. Nor should the people of Darfur be excluded from those processes.
Addressing the humanitarian side of the conflict, Mr. Adada said that earlier in the year, the humanitarian crisis had been manageable, but the Government’s decision of 4 March to expel 13 non-governmental organizations and suspend the work of three local non-governmental organizations had caused a significant interruption to the provision of essential supplies and services. UNAMID, which did not have a humanitarian mandate, was nevertheless deeply concerned about the risk of a humanitarian catastrophe, not least because its members were the most visible representatives of the international community in Darfur. He, therefore, strongly supported the efforts of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) who, together with the Government, followed and monitored the situation.
Turning to the issue of UNAMID’s deployment, Mr. Adada said that, despite the fact that UNAMID had achieved two thirds of its mandated strength and was deployed in every part of Darfur, due to ongoing logistical difficulties, including the lack of transport helicopters under military command, it was operating at roughly one third of its full capability. It anticipated reaching full strength by the end of the year. For its part, the Sudan had extended good cooperation to UNAMID and the tripartite mechanism between the Government, the United Nations and the African Union had been working well. The efforts of Council members in overcoming obstacles and the provision by Ethiopia of tactical helicopters were appreciated.
He went on to say that, while the Mission was increasingly speaking with authority on the situation on the ground, its success remained modest. Civilians remained at unacceptable risk of violence, with millions in displaced camps or as refugees. Meanwhile, the great wrongs committed during the height of hostilities in 2003 to 2004 went without remedy.
Nevertheless, the Mission had not failed, he said. Indeed, UNAMID teams worked around the clock to prevent killings, violence and new conflict. While invisible, its preventive role complemented the efforts of the Joint Mediation Support Team. In January, it had correctly kept its forces in Muhajiriya, despite severe pressure to leave. Thirty civilians too many had been killed during fighting there, but the casualties would have been far higher without the Mission’s presence. A recurrence of mass killings had been thwarted in Kalma camp.
He said UNAMID was also regularly called on to prevent violence from intertribal fighting from spiralling out of control, as it had recently done over a cattle-theft dispute in Khor Abeshir. Elsewhere, civil affairs, human rights, and political affairs officers were working alongside the Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and Consultation process to promote local-level reconciliation.
On the ground, the Mission faced day-to-day challenges, including the need to ensure that the humanitarian situation was stabilized, to respond to local security threats and to ensure that the Mission reached its full capability. It was also working to face its strategic challenge, which was derived from the responsibility to protect and which demanded a political settlement for the whole of the Sudan. Indeed, UNAMID’s mission could only be accomplished when the people of Darfur lived under a sustainable peace.
“I sincerely believe the role of UNAMID is more and more acknowledged by the people of Darfur,” he said. In such a Mission, where failures and setbacks were frequently advertised and success usually unfolded without fanfare, progress was being made. However, success was ultimately in the hands of the Sudan’s political leaders and a collective international commitment to helping the people of the Sudan, especially those citizens whose common home was in Darfur, find a just and lasting solution to their predicament.
The meeting started at 10:10 a.m. and adjourned at 10:25 a.m.
When the Council met, it had before it a report of the Secretary-General on the deployment of UNAMID (document S/2009/201), which says that the Mission’s deployment and operations, as well as the political, security and humanitarian situation in the region were dominated during February and March 2009 by the International Criminal Court’s decision on 4 March to issue a warrant for the arrest of the Sudan’s President for two counts of war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity.
In the report, the Secretary-General recognizes the authority of the Court as an independent judicial institution and says he trusts that the Sudan’s Government will address the issues of peace and justice in a manner consistent with Security Council resolution 1593 (2005). He reiterates the determination of the United Nations to continue to conduct its vital mediation, peacekeeping, humanitarian, human rights and development operations and activities in the Sudan. He also calls on the Government of the Sudan to cooperate fully with all United Nations entities and their implementing partners, while fulfilling its obligation to ensure the safety and security of the civilian population, United Nations personnel and property, and that of its implementing partners.
He says that, in that regard, the Government’s decision to expel or dissolve 16 humanitarian and human rights non-governmental organizations was an extremely negative development and calls on the Government urgently to re-establish an atmosphere of trust and mutual confidence with the humanitarian community. He also calls on the Sudan to reconsider its decision, in light of its responsibility for the well-being and protection of its own citizens.
He suggests that the decision threatens to raise tensions among internally displaced persons, particularly in the larger camps for the displaced, and that the risk of violence in the camps and their environs could complicate the ability of UNAMID to perform its protection mandate. Moreover, the overall security situation in Darfur remains a fundamental preoccupation and he expresses concern over reports of continued armed clashes between the Government and the movements, recurrent tribal fighting throughout Darfur and the build-up of forces along the Sudan-Chad border.
The security of United Nations and United Nations-associated personnel has also become a critical issue, with vehicle hijackings and compound invasions ‑‑ like the kidnapping of five Médecins Sans Frontières-Belgium staff in March ‑‑ having grown increasingly deliberate in nature. Attacks on UNAMID personnel also increased, including the killing of one peacekeeper and the injury of three others during March, bringing the total number of peacekeepers lost since the transfer of authority to 14.
Due to the insecurity, UNAMID had been unable to visit locations to assess the impact of the bombardments on the civilian population, including resulting casualties, destruction of property and displacements. After clashes and intensive aerial bombardment in Muhajeriya at the beginning of February, all unarmed UNAMID personnel were moved to Nyala. The UNAMID military personnel remaining had sought to provide protection to the population and, at one point, as many as 10,000 people had gathered around the UNAMID camp’s perimeter, thereby straining the Operation’s protection capacity.
These security developments, the Secretary-General says, highlight again the fundamental challenges UNAMID faces while operating in an environment where the parties show no intent to give up the use of force, and further underscore the urgent need for a comprehensive settlement to the Darfur crisis.
He says that, while UNAMID had already been able to make a difference on the ground, the provision of outstanding equipment, in particular military helicopter assets, remains critical to increasing the Mission’s mobility and operational impact. He reiterates his appeal to Member States in a position to provide these mission-critical capabilities to do so without further delay, adding that it is also extremely important for troop and police contributors, with support from donor countries in some cases, to accelerate preparations to deploy. Otherwise, deployments targets would go unmet.
He says that, while the Agreement of Good Will and Confidence Building for the Settlement of the Problem in Darfur, signed in Doha on 17 February 2009 by the Sudanese Government and the Justice and Equality Movement, was the first step towards an inclusive dialogue, recent actions of the main parties had neither reduced tensions nor reflected the spirit of compromise necessary for a successful peace process. He, thus, calls on all parties to continue their engagement in the political process together with Joint Chief Mediator Djibril Bassolé, stressing that a negotiated political solution, supported strongly by a united international community and the Security Council, remains the only way to end suffering in Darfur.
“We are at a critical moment with respect to Darfur: the decision to expel the NGOs has put innocent civilians at risk and increased the potential for instability in the region”, he says. “In this climate, it is all the more urgent to find a solution through political dialogue.”
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